Traditional gender traits may affect how quickly hospitals care for men and women who are having heart attacks.
A study of more than 1,100 patients between the ages of 18 to 55 found that men and women with “traditional” feminine character traits were less likely to receive timely care than patients with masculine traits. The research also shows that young men were likely to receive care faster than young women.
Within 24 hours after admission to hospital, patients completed a survey that asked about gender-related issues such as “traditional” masculine and feminine traits of personality, responsibility for housework, education level, and health status before the event.
Dismissed as anxiety?
The women in the study with acute coronary syndrome were more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, and a family history of heart disease. The women also had substantially higher levels of anxiety and depression than the men.
The men received faster access to electrocardiograms (ECGs) and fibrinolysis than women, with door-to-ECG and door-to-needle times of 15 and 21 minutes and 28 and 36 minutes, respectively.
“Anxiety was associated with failure to meet the 10-minute benchmark for electrocardiograms in women but not in men,” says study principal investigator Louise Pilote, professor of medicine at McGill University.
“Patients with anxiety who present to the emergency department with non-cardiac chest pain tend to be women, and the prevalence of acute coronary syndrome is lower among young women than among young men. These findings suggest that triage personnel might initially dismiss a cardiac event among young women with anxiety, which would result in a longer door-to-ECG interval.”
Traditional gender roles
Patients visiting the emergency department with atypical symptoms or multiple risk factors also had longer treatment delays. The researchers found that both men and women with feminine character traits were less likely to receive timely care than patients with masculine traits.
“A novel finding of our study was the identification of gender-related determinants of access to care,” says lead author and postdoctoral fellow Roxanne Pelletier.
“Men and women who reported higher levels of feminine personality traits, as well as those who reported being the person at home mainly responsible for housework, were less likely to undergo invasive procedures.”
Researchers say the findings show that more specific management may be required for patients presenting to the emergency department with no chest pain, several risk factors, or a feminine gender identity and role.
The findings are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Source: McGill University